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The 10 most influential Revolution stories of 2017

Ranking the top headlines from another year of Revs soccer.

MLS: New England Revolution at FC Dallas
Revs midfielder Kelyn Rowe controls the ball against FC Dallas on March 18.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 season brought unfamiliar faces but familiar results to Foxboro. The Revolution, despite acquiring a pair of international center backs and a proven striker, finished five points out of playoff contention. And that prompted a September coaching change.

Through it all, the team generated its fair share of headlines, from a recording-breaking home win to the hiring of a new head coach.

These stories made the biggest splash, ranked from 10-1:

10. Revolution win record 12th match at Gillette Stadium

Though the Revs struggled on the road last season, the team looked virtually unbeatable in Foxboro, where it earned a 12-2-3 record. That 12th home win—recorded on October 15 against NYCFC—now stands as a club record.

It’s a small consolation prize following a season that ended short of the playoffs. But only Toronto FC, the eventual MLS champs, won more home matches last season. The Revs will look to carry that trend into 2018.

9. Revolution go winless on the road until match 34

Allergic to road wins for the first 33 matches of the season, the Revs narrowly avoided embarrassment in match 34 with a last-gasp win over the Impact, when Kelyn Rowe scored a stoppage-time game-winner. Yet while the victory helped the Revs avoid a historically-poor season away from Foxboro, it also highlighted the disparity between the team’s home and road success. The Revs will look to reverse that trend in 2018.

8. Xavier Kouassi’s run as a Designated Player ends after 14 starts

Touted as a midfield destroyer with the ability to control matches from the middle of the park, Kouassi showcased his potential during a handful of impressive 2017 starts. Unfortunately, he also showcased an inability to stay healthy. Across his season-and-a-half career in New England, Kouassi played just 1,218 minutes, nearly 1,000 fewer than fellow defensive midfielder Scott Caldwell. The Revs declined his option following the season.

Still, in the midst of it all, Kouassi scored one of the season’s most memorable goals—a late equalizer against NYCFC—while managing a quad injury.

7. Antonio Delamea makes the journey from Slovenia to Foxboro

It’s not often that a team rebuilds its back line in a matter of weeks. But that’s what the Revs set out to do during preseason camp, when center backs Antonio Delamea and Benjamin Angoua signed on with the club. Angoua served as the more celebrated acquisition, but it was Delamea—the first Slovenian player to don an MLS kit—who separated himself as a future building block, using his leadership and grit to win over Revolution fans. Now, Delamea looks like a potential Revolution captain under new coach Brad Friedel.

6. Kristzian Nemeth shocks Sporting KC by landing with the Revolution

In the final days of the secondary transfer window, two outcomes seemed inevitable: Sporting KC would re-acquire Nemeth, and the Revolution would refrain from making an impact acquisition. Both assumptions proved wrong, as Nemeth landed with the Revs in a surprising turn of events.

A red card against Sporting ultimately clouded Nemeth’s end-of-season contributions, though the Hungarian international will play a key role in Friedel’s attack next season.

5. Kei Kamara heads to Vancouver after two seasons in New England

A headline-making acquisition who joined the Revolution for a haul of assets, Kamara scored 19 goals across two seasons, engaged fans with his larger-than-life personality and put forth one of the best individual efforts of 2017 when he scored a hat trick against Orlando City. Unfortunately, Kamara also experienced long dry spells during his New England tenure and never found a rhythm in Jay Heaps’ system.

In the end, the Revolution decided not to include Kamara in its offseason rebuild, as the team sent him to the Vancouver Whitecaps on December 10th in exchange for two SuperDraft picks. After scoring 26 goals for Crew SC in 2015, Kamara failed to meet expectations in Foxboro—a truth he admitted several times near the end of his Revolution career.

MLS: Orlando City SC at New England Revolution
Kei Kamara celebrates after scoring his third goal against Orlando City on Sept. 2. The Revs traded Kamara to the Whitecaps in early December.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

4. Lee Nguyen ties MLS record with four assists vs. Orlando City

The Revolution attack turned in an inconsistent 2017 campaign. But on September 2 against Orlando City, the unit came to play, overwhelming the visiting Lions en route to a 4-0 win. Lee Nguyen set up all four Revolution goals, a feat that matched an MLS record. The former MVP candidate finished the season with a career-high 15 assists.

3. Atlanta United drops seven goals on the shorthanded Revolution

The Revolution entered its mid-September match with Atlanta United eyeing a late push for the playoffs. To make that happen, the team needed a road win against an Atlanta team that had surpassed expectations in its inaugural campaign. But instead of picking up a statement win, the Revs earned two red cards amidst a franchise-worst 7-0 defeat. The loss served as an eerie juxtaposition of two teams moving in different directions: upstart Atlanta United solidifying itself as an Eastern Conference power, and the Revolution solidifying itself as a team in need of a rebuild.

2. Kelyn Rowe earns his first USMNT call-up and scores his first international goal

A surprise selection to Bruce Arena’s Gold Cup squad, Rowe made the most of his first go-round with the USMNT. He picked up a clever assist against Panama and rode a smooth finish to his first international goal against Nicaragua.

Rowe spent the fall recovering from a knee injury, but returned to action on the final day of the MLS season, when he scored a memorable game-winner against the Montreal Impact. He later earned a call-up for a friendly against Portugal, but didn’t appear in the contest.

1. Revolution hire Brad Friedel to replace Jay Heaps

In just three years at the helm of the Revolution, Heaps turned an Eastern Conference bottom feeder into an Eastern Conference champion. That run made Revolution soccer fun again. Sadly, that run also lacked staying power, as the navy and red regressed in each season following its loss in the 2014 MLS Cup final.

The Revolution dismissed Heaps in September. In November, the team hired Friedel, a U.S. legend between the sticks. The move propelled the team into a brand new era led by a man with 82 career caps and 450 Premier League appearances.

What influential stories did we miss? Post them in the comments section below.